From Endurance to Dressage
Bounder was lucky; he had more than one little girl. Sadly, our barn lost Bounder early Thursday morning. His real name was Honor Bound. I know his owner will miss him greatly.
Bounder was a grand gentleman who was lucky to have owned RM. She loved him deeply and provided for his every need. He was bundled against the cool evening air and shaded from the summer sun. His belly was always full and an equine companion was always close by. His was the best kind of life. Rest in peace, Bounder; you will be missed.
but I certainly hope it was the last! Speedy, Speedy, Speedy ... Dude, just give it up already. You know I'm going to win.
We had another great lesson on Monday. I say great, but half of it was pure rodeo. I am sure JL's other students were all in the barn laughing their butts off. Speedy was that naughty!
We've spent the last few weeks really focusing on our canter work. I am not going to say that our trot work is perfect, but it's strong enough now that JL doesn't have a whole lot to say. I know that once we get this right lead canter thing under control, JL will find some new thing to work on at the trot; the stretchy trot and trot lengthenings come to mind.
The newest canter exercise was a real doozy. Here's the rationale - Speedy's ribcage and shoulder are popping out while most of his weight is resting on his inside hind leg. This is creating a very crooked pony. The counter bend work at the trot and canter is helping, but he's still not straight.
In order to help me feel how crooked he is, JL created an exercise down the long side. At the canter, she instructed me to keep his nose on the fence and his body away from the fence all while on a right lead canter. Think haunches in, but not bent in the direction of movement.
The most important thing was to keep his nose on the fence at all times. At the same time, she had me use my outside leg to push his hind end to the inside.
When Speedy bulges his ribcage into my outside leg, I can't get control of the shoulder because when I pull back, the shoulder "hits" the ribcage. Not really of course, but the ribs are blocking any effort I make to slow down and control that outside shoulder. By moving Speedy's haunches over, I am opening the area behind the shoulder so that I can slow it down.
The first attempt at cantering the fence line, especially the long side, was a disaster; I had zero control. Speedy was basically a runaway freight train. I slammed him to a halt over and over, but he just kept telling me NO!
Eventually, I brought him back to a trot and accidentally got the exercise right. JL quickly jumped in and told me to keep him at the trot. Any time I drifted away from the fence, she was there to tell me to keep his nose on the fence. After quite a number of circuits around the areana with his nose always on the fence, I started to feel his ribcage shift over. I was left with a hollow area beneath my leg.
Once I could feel the absence of his ribs, the point of the exercise clicked. I understood how to move his ribcage away from my leg. We picked up the canter, and I immediately felt the difference. I had control of his shoulder and he was much more supple.
Until you feel it done right, it's hard to tell what's not right. When JL tells me to get him off my outside leg, I now know what she means. All this time, I haven't felt that he's been on my outside leg. How do you know what black is unless you've first seen white? Now I know.
Once I felt Speedy get off my outside leg, I had total control of his outside shoulder. The right lead canter finally got soft and balanced. I was able to straighten his nose back out so that he was basically straight. We made several laps around the arena. On the long sides, he felt even between my legs. As we approached the rounded corners (it's an oval arena), I could feel where he wanted to lean out against my leg. Nope. Sorry, Dude. As we approached the corner, I simply rocked the outside rein and put his nose back on the fence. It worked like a charm.
The last few minutes of the lesson were dedicated to tracking left. JL wanted to see his left lead canter after all of that straightening to the right. I am going to boast a little here. When we started to the left, he was heavy in my hand and leaning on my inside leg (it's always his left side that wants to be against my leg). JL just waited quietly and watched as I went through the various exercises that she's taught me. When he wouldn't lighten up, I did a sitting a trot and pushed him sideways, sideways, sideways until he relaxed his ribcage and moved off my leg. I think JL was impressed.
When we picked up the canter, he tried to rush the corner closest to home, a favorite trick of his. Each time we came to that spot, JL would warn me that he was "running." It took several passes, but I finally got control of the outside shoulder (again?) and was rewarded with some hugely elevated canter strides. Woohoo! It felt as though there were three feet of air beneath us. Even JL laughed at how uphill Speedy was.
My homework for the next few weeks is to canter the long sides with Speedy's nose on the rail and his haunches inside. Winter weather is finally approaching so we'll see how much we are able to get done. In the meantime, the feel has got me. Once it's felt, there is no unfeeling it!
Many years ago it was decided that items which reflected my equine passion were limited to the barn and my office. I've honored that agreement, mostly. A few equine items have slipped through the front door, but they have taken up residence in the kitchen which is pretty much my domain. Since we're into the kitchen season, here they are.
This is a survey going around. I first saw it over on Sarah's site, Eventing in Color. I really enjoyed reading her answers, and it was fun to think of what I would have said, so I said it!
Splurge or Save:
1. saddle: splurge - I ride in a Custom Revolution
2. board: splurge - I could go way cheaper, but I like not dealing with idiots
3. halter: save? - I don't really care for web halters. Speedy goes in a Zilco halter (synthetic) while Sydney is in a rope halter, but both of those styles are relatively cheap when compared to the fancy leather ones
4. bit: Splurge - I like Mikmar and Myler bits, although Speedy is currently working in a JP Korsteel
5. bridle: save - can't find a nice one that fits Speedy
6. saddle pad: middle of the road - fit is more important than brand or style
7. trailer: Splurge - three horse with living quarters definitely counts as a splurge
First Thing That Comes to Mind:
1. Haflinger: nothing comes to mind ...
2. Quarter Horse: (offering a preemptive apology here ...) peanut roller
3. Thoroughbred: never had one until recently, still forming an opinion
4. Warmblood: would like to have one someday
5. Welsh Cob: nothing comes to mind ...
This or That:
1. English or Western: English
2. tall or short: short, but well proportioned!
3. trail ride or beach ride: trail - I've done the beach but find it boring
4. long mane or short mane: long for my Arab, short for my TB
5. hunters or jumpers: neither?
6. XC or barrel racing: XC sounds like more fun
7. outdoor arena or indoor arena: I like fresh air - outdoor
8. trot or canter: canter!
9. canter or gallop: out on the trail - gallop, schooling in the arena - canter
10. paddock boots, tall boots, or cowboy boots: paddock boots
11. horse shoes or barefoot: shoes
12. saddle or bareback: I can get a lot more done in a saddle
1. How long have you been riding? I am 41 years old and don't remember the first time on a horse, so 40 years?
2. Do you own or lease a horse? own
3. Breed? Age? Height? Name? Arabian, 8, 15' 1, G Ima Starr FA "Speedy G" and New Zealand TB, 10, 16' 0, Pick a Card "Sydney"
4. Do you have any other pets? an 11 month old labrador named Tobias
5. If your horse was a person, what kind of voice would he have (you can use a celebrity for an example)? I don't know, but Speedy's would be that of a fast talking, con man while Sydney's would be low and slow
6. Does your horse have a “color”? If so, what is it, and what do you have in that color? I tend to go for black or blue, but I have every color of bucket, rake, gloves, etc.
7. Does your horse do any tricks? Speedy stands rock solid while a whip is cracked all around him and even helicoptered over his head
8. Have you ever dressed your horse up for Halloween? uh ... no, and wouldn't want to!
1. Breed: Arabian
2. Discipline: Dressage (two years ago it would have been endurance!)
3. Coat color: I like them with chrome even though I don't have one with chrome
4. Famous horse: The Black Stallion
5. Horse race/competition: I really enjoy watching the Kentucky Derby
6. Brand of tack: no favorite - I am really into functionality
7. Thing to do with your horse: EVERYTHING
Or is that horse-keeping?
Let's see ... on Wednesday, RM (barn owner) volunteered to gather a fecal sample for all four horses at the barn and zipped them over to BVH for an eggs per gram fecal test. As usual, all four came back negative. The protocol here in town is bi-annual fecal counts followed by a dose of ivermectin.
Fecal counts aren't cheap, BVH charges $25 a pop, but I prefer that protocol over the bi-monthly system of dosing with a rotation of dewormers. The old style of deworming has proven to be ineffective and is actually detrimental since worms have become highly resistant to several classes of dewormers. Not a good thing if you have a horse who is actually wormy.
We follow a pretty good routine for reducing the chance of worm infestation. Stalls are cleaned daily, sometimes twice. Manure is composted far from grazing areas. Our "stalls" are also quite large which allows the horses to designate their own kitchen and restroom areas which my boys, especially Speedy, maintain quite meticulously. Not that it does anything to the worms, but RM also uses Fly Predators in the compost pile which just helps the barn's living conditions over all.
I gave the dewormer on Sunday. Sydney didn't take any coaxing, but he was a bit miffed afterwards and refused all the I am really sorry cookies. I have worked with Speedy accepting oral medications ad nauseam. Since it had been a while since our last session, we had a quick refresher course: molasses water in a syringe. Once he was taking that without the need for a halter, I coated the dewormer tube with molasses and popped it in. He was a bit surprised, but the molasses must have had an impact because he actually licked his lips and reached for the I am terribly sorry about this cookie.
Click photos for captions. (To read more about strategic deworming, check out this link. You have to scroll down a bit to see the article written by Dr. Blanton.)
And in other house-keeping business, I just renewed my California Dressage Society membership which gives me Group Membership to USDF. CDS charges a whopping $70 annually. I am sure the money is well managed, and I know I utilize every ounce of my membership, but it's not one of the bills I enjoy paying. If you'll remember, I just gave USEF $55 a week or so ago. I better start getting my 2013 show schedule lined up so that I get my $125 worth of membership benefits!
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at Second Level. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2021 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2021 Pending …
3/6-7 El Sueño (***)
4/17-18 El Sueño (***)
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
5/23 TMC (*)
6/12-13 SB (***) OR
6/19-20 El Sueño (***)
6/27 TMC (*)
7/3-4 Burbank (***) OR
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
7/25 TMC (*)
8/14-15 RAAC (Q) (***)
8/29 TMC (*)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
2021 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2nd Level Qualifying
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 60.610% Bhathal
2nd Level Qualifying
5 Scores/4 Judges/61%:
Stuff I Read